Or, how Jeremey Bentham was on to something!
In this early stage 21st century, our preoccupation with preserving our longevity digitally, chronicling our data, our story and leaving a legacy, has been supported by the arrival of platforms like Facebook’s IfIDie.net and other “digital after life” storefronts like LifeNaut.com with their succinct one word tag line – “Eternalize”.
What was the seed for all this and where is it to be found – that something that we might say was the almost digital origin of preserving our longevity? Well you actually need to go to Gower Street, in the South Cloisters of University College London (UCL) and meet Jeremy Bentham, or at least his Auto-Icon. It is one of those must do experiences that will help you appreciate how much we are connected to the early stage 19th century.
Quantum leaps in technology over two hundred years of course, but today’s rendition of on line avatars is eerily like the Bentham Auto-Icon. Even today, Bentham’s testimony, his legacy, is still being discovered and enhanced by new generations at the UCL by way of the Bentham Project. You can be part of his on location Panopticam Stream on Twitter – “watching you watching Jeremy Bentham”.
The positive usefulness of this digital after life phenomena is that we have now reached a point where we can have a more informative and interactive conversation with an auto-icon using new technologies that I’m sure would have overwhelmed, while at the same time delighted Mr. Bentham.